Expansion Stage Management Dream Team

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Expansion stage software/Internet companies go through a significant management transformation as they grow. I have been thinking a lot lately about what my management dream team would look like for this type of company. Here is my current thinking on the target dream team as a software/Internet company builds during the expansion stage:

The Core Dream Team

A CEO who is very clear on the company aspirations (mission, vision, values), target customers, and brand promise, who is in control of the company’s economic model, and who is great at company development strategies (including getting the right dream team members working together to do the right things right). This person would also be able to check all the boxes in this list to be locked and loaded for the year at this point.

A Marketer who can pull the team together to maximize the market clarity for the company, help to identify business growth strategies and help with creating competitive advantage. The marketer would also be gifted at demand generation, but getting the market clarity right will ultimately make demand generation easy to achieve.

A Product Manager who can identify the best target customer segments, find unique target customer insights, turn them into great product designs, work with the development team to implement them, and work with the sales and marketing teams to sell them.

A Development Head who can organize a team to build quality products with high velocity and rapid iterations and can get a high score on the Nokia test.

A Customer Service Head who works to have a high net promoter score, but who also works hard to feed the insights from customer service into changes in the company (product, website, etc.) that dramatically reduce customer issues.

A Sales Head who is gifted in developing sales methodologies (prospecting, inside sales, field sales, channel sales) and high performing teams that are relevant to the company’s product market (note that this is critical for B2B companies, but also plays an important role in many consumer oriented companies).

A Business Development Head who understands the product market ecosystem, is hard charging, and who can build out the company’s ecosystem with limited disruption to the company.

A CFO who can create the basic financial process, but more importantly, can develop a thoughtful target economic model and help the management team understand it and, ultimately, achieve it.

Each of my dream team members would have the highest respect from the other senior managers (because they are that good), would manage their units effectively and efficiently with limited involvement from the CEO and would work well with each other to drive the company toward its aspirations while creating competitive advantage and improving its economic model performance.

Other Roles on the Dream Team

There are other roles that would be on the dream team depending on the exact nature of the company’s product markets. For example:

Professional Services Head (when a company has professional services) who can ensure development and delivery of great professional services while also managing to target gross margins.

Merchandising Head (when a company has merchandise it needs to procure) who can identify what the buyers want that will achieve appropriate margins and ensure the company gets the right merchandise at reasonable costs.

Logistics Head (when a company has fulfillment and reverse logistics) who can ensure the logistics are effective and efficient and the inventory is managed appropriately.

My questions for your company:

– What does the dream team look like for your company? You should have a target team!

– Where do you stand against your dream team today? You should have an accurate assessment!

– Most importantly, what should you do today to take the next step toward your ideal dream team? You should constantly work on the next dream team member!